Friday, January 27, 2012

Jada Toys Introduces Halo Die-cast Collectibles


Jada Toys

Jada Toys brings authenticity to fans of Halo through die-cast vehicles

CITY OF INDUSTRY, CA – January 26, 2012 – Jada Toys, Inc. announces a brand new, officially licensed Halo die-cast vehicle line featuring a unified scale approach. Jada is developing all vehicles and accessories in proportion to each other, keeping it real with the Halo series of video games! The line will feature vehicles and characters from the upcoming Halo 4 video game being launched in the 2012 holiday season.

Casual to hardcore fans of the Halo series will appreciate the exquisite detail and quality. Jada is known to produce high-quality die-cast vehicles at affordable prices. Combining that with the awesome vehicle and character design from the upcoming Halo 4 video game results in a legendary toy line.

“We're excited to be partners in the Halo franchise. Jada will bring their phenomenal ability to replicate a brand's essence in die-cast, which will extend the Halo experience,” says Marlene Cuesta, VP Licensing at Jada Toys.

Also announced as part of Jada’s Halo lineup is a 14-inch Halo 4 Warthog replica. This will be the largest die-cast vehicle Jada has ever produced, taking Jada to another level. This massive vehicle will have many features, making this a must have for the die-hard Halo fan.

The Halo die-cast line will be hitting shelves in August 2012, with prices ranging from $6.99-$39.99.

For more information about Jada Toys and all its other innovative products, please go to www.jadatoys.com.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Halo Bulletin: 1.25.12

The Halo Bulletin: 1.25.12

If you’re looking for a witty, well-written recap of what’s going on in the wonderful world of Halo, you’ve come to the wrong place. If, however, you have a thing for paragraph after paragraph of incoherent text, painfully devoid of any and all informational value, of course, then you are in for a treat. That’s right, my friends; it’s officially time for your least favorite “Why are my eyes suddenly bleeding,” “I want the last ten minutes of my life back,” and “Please, just go dark already” article of the week. In case you haven’t guessed it yet, I’m talking about your TL;DR Halo Bulletin!

Halo Spartan Snowman

Seattle Snowpocalypse 2012

There are numerous things that can make me stay inside the confines of my comfy home for an entire week. Bacon and Halo are two such examples. Another is snow. While I hail from an area that typically experiences a traditional, precipitation-filled winter, transplanting to Seattle has softened me up. I suppose it could have been the realization that staying in bed is more fun than getting out of it, but it’s easier to blame it on the move.

Although, after thinking about one of the greatest songs ever, I suppose the rain is a viable option as well.

Anyway, after reading about my fondness for pillow-commuting, I imagine you’re simply beside yourself with curiosity about what exactly could have caused such a long, bedridden time period. So, here’s an easy-to-digest summary in the form of weather-related email snippets exchanged by various 343-ers over the last seven-day period.

“It’s icy in Kirkland. Don't they have plows here?”
“They do, but they choose not to use them. They're trying to toughen people up a bit.”
“I’m coming in on my snowboard.”
“Took two hours but I’m here. Those bendy buses are interesting on iced-up snowy roads!”
“Seattle is fine. 520 is fine. Kirkland is a Shakespearean comedy rapidly turning to Greek tragedy.”
“I can’t even get out of my parking spot.”
“THIS IS SPARTA!”

There will be an additional teeny-tiny tidbit about the snow in the second Office of Halo Intelligence entry found later in this Bulletin. For now, though, I think I’ll get your mind off the cold by talking about something new involving your favorite form of UNSC currency.


Halo Drone Custom Challenge

Custom Challenge of the Week – Drones

Last month, we issued a special 343-themed Custom Challenge, and thousands of your fellow credit-loving friends participated. Because everybody enjoyed the opportunity at a higher-than-average payout, I thought we could try a new activity called the Custom Challenge of the Week. Every seven days, assuming this goes as planned, we’ll give you a special challenge that, upon completion, will add a little extra in-game money to your virtual pocket. Sometimes you’ll have to create a challenge with all our specifications. Other times you’ll just have to include a specific enemy in your goal. This week, we’re going with the latter.

From now until next Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time, dead Drones are worth ten times their usual amount. Those pesky, flying insectoids can only be found in three Campaign missions, so choose your level wisely. We would apologize for putting a bounty on their antennae-covered heads, but seriously, these buggers are annoying as all heck. I’d tell you what I call them when I’m yelling at my TV in the privacy of my own home, but I don’t think I’d have a job afterwards. Let’s just say it rhymes with derky derkface. And I’ll leave it at that.


MidlothianThe ReturnHeadhuntersThe Mona Lisa

Motion Comics – Coming Soon to Zune Video Marketplace

Whether you find yourself stuck in bed for days on end (as I recently did) or you love the art of combining elements of print comic books and animation, you’ll be excited to hear that four of our original motion comic series are coming to Zune Video Marketplace on January 28. That’s this Saturday, for those of you that don’t keep a calendar on you at all times. If you’re intrigued by the convenience this could potentially offer you and your favorite technological devices, here are the relevant details.


Prices, in Microsoft Points

• Midnight in the Heart of Midlothian – 4 episodes, 280 points for a season pass, 80 points per individual episode
• The Return – 4 episodes, 280 points for a season pass, 80 points per individual episode
• Headhunters – 3 episodes, 200 points for a season pass, 80 points per individual episode
• The Mona Lisa – 11 episodes, 700 points for a season pass, 80 points per individual episode


You can access the Zune Video Marketplace through all the ways you can reach Zune, which includes your Xbox 360, phone, and personal computer. You’ll be able to find them under the GamerTV network or by searching for the name or for “Halo.” We’ll also provide you handy-dandy links once they’re officially available, as we’re kinda sorta nice like that.

It’s worth noting these are HD episodes, so the quality is, at the risk of speaking in too-technical terms, super awesome.


Office of Halo Intelligence

OHI’s back, all right!

Taking a clue from the Backstreet Boys, the Office of Halo Intelligence is back. If you missed its inaugural entry, the Office of Halo Intelligence, or OHI for short, is a semi-regular diary-type piece brought to you by various members of the Halo 4 development team. Today, for your Halo 4 insight enjoyment, I bring you Kiki Wolfkill, Executive Producer of Halo 4.


Sweet! I feel honored to get to contribute a little blurb to this week's Bulletin. I'll do my best to try to keep you entertained for at least 15 seconds with all sorts of savory and unsavory details about the goings-on here on the Halo 4 team. In all seriousness, this team is doing some extraordinary work, and I look forward to being able to share more of their heroic deeds periodically over the next few months.

So, what the hell are we up to? Well, as even Kotaku noticed, Seattle was hit with a Snowpocalypse of proportions unseen since, wait for it.... 2011. Some 343-ers were stranded at home, racking up gamerscore and ruining their futures with hours of TV viewing (my marathons of choice: Downton Abbey and Spartacus). Now we're back and man, catch-up is a b****.

We've had an action-packed week of internal mission reviews, a deep-dive with the Marketing and PR teams, and a quick little exec review thrown in for good measure. It may sound like a lot of reviews and that's because it is…. we are in full execution mode. There are hundreds of moving parts across 343 and Microsoft Studios that need to be aligned and coordinated—now is the time to get all our ducks in a row. While it’s been a little hectic making up for last week's snow days and going through these reviews, it's always invigorating to be able to get the game in front of folks who aren't staring at it every minute of every day. I do look forward to getting back to our normal routine of game-building, playtesting, and general creative rabble-rousing. More on this later.

Oh—did I mention that my favorite hour this week was our music review? Magic....

Kiki

Not at all related, Kiki keeps a tiny firearm strapped to her thigh at all times. Okay, she doesn’t really, but only because there’s no room for one. Apparently her awesomeness is hogging all the space. Go figure.

And now, before I call this sucker done, here is a spattering of community-submitted questions!


Halo: Reach Screenshot
Why weren't Penance and High noon added to Team Doubles? – DJ SX50

I grabbed the nearest Matchmaking Systems Team member, and made him randomly pound the keyboard until the associated text made sense. Here is what he finally ended up with:

The size and (especially) verticality of Penance and High Noon make them inopportune candidates for Double Team. We are still, however, looking at creating a version of Penance that will support 2v2 play. If you would like to submit a version of Penance for review, please pm a link to the file and an EXTREMELY LONG AND DETAILED breakdown of the changes to bs angel on the Waypoint forum.

MMST

Hhmmm, I probably deserved that last sentence. Moving on.


Halo: Reach Screenshot
Do you believe in magic in a young girl's heart? How the music can free her whenever it starts? (Any word on the music of Halo 4?) – Necropaxx

Kiki touched on that at the end of her OHI blurb, but I’m sure you want more information. I’ll see if I can get Sotaro Tojima, the Audio Director for Halo 4, to write an upcoming entry. For what it’s worth, I find the following words applicable to describe the music in its current state: eerie, familiar, chill-inducing, powerful.

And Kiki and Frank have both been in “listening sessions” hearing and approving the Halo 4 soundtrack from the soon-to-be-revealed composer. Frank has already picked his two favorite tracks – one is codenamed “Blue Green” and is “recklessly imaginative and inarguably stirring,” and another track whose codename is a massive spoiler that we won’t reveal it here is “maudlin, ancient, and redolent of unanswered tragedy.” The two of them have been talking about “sonic cathedrals of thundering effervescence” all week and may be planning on becoming pretentious music journalists.

Frank points out that the new soundtrack is totally different in some way than Marty’s legendary scores, but that players should relax because “it’s a transcendent yet grounded exploration of ethereal aural dynamics.” Whatever that means....


Halo: Reach Screenshot
As of right now, how many people are working at 343 Industries? – ol69

Enough people to fill up our entire main studio and also the building next door. They just informed me, in fact, that we’re so full I need to move to an outside area. At least that’s what I think they meant when they told me to grab my personal belongings and exit the building. Here’s to hoping for a deck chair, a frosty beverage, and lots and lots of sun!


I’m going to gather my stuff, but I’ll see you next week. Same time, same place, of course. Until then….

<3,
bs angel

P.S. If the OHI wallpaper didn’t satisfy your desktop adornment needs (what, you didn’t see that?), then here is your customary Friday Caption Fun-themed image. Embiggen, snag, and then hit the latest installment to contribute your witty quip. Off you go!

Friday Caption Fun

Thursday, January 19, 2012

McFarlane Toys joins the Halo 4 toy race!

It should come as no surprise that McFarlane is going to be doing their own line of Halo figures, they've been doing it since the days of Halo: Combat Evolved. So, here is the official statement made by 343 Industries earlier today...

by bs angel 19. January 2012 14:01

McFarlane Toys

Long-Running, Best-Selling Figure Line Continues in 2012 with All-New Figures from the Latest Halo Video Game

This fall, Microsoft Studios and 343 Industries are releasing Halo 4, the highly anticipated video game expected to be one of the top entertainment launches of 2012. McFarlane Toys is proud to announce that its best-selling line of Halo action figures continues this fall as well, with figures from Halo 4.

Halo 4 brings back the most popular character of the Halo universe, the Master Chief, and kicks off an all-new trilogy of games. Dubbed the "Reclaimer Trilogy" by 343 Industries, these new games explore the characters of the Master Chief and Cortana, expand the Halo fiction in bold new ways and bring even more of the innovation that the Halo series is known for to the gaming world. McFarlane Toys Halo 4 action figures bring the all-new characters, weapons and vehicles of Halo 4 to video-game fans and action-figure collectors worldwide.

"Each new Halo game is a significant entertainment event," says Todd McFarlane, CEO and founder of McFarlane Toys. "Halo 4 marks the return of the Master Chief and Cortana, plus the introduction of new characters, weapons and locations sure to excite long-time fans."

Action figure collectors can expect the same quality and attention to detail in the Halo 4 line that they've come to expect from McFarlane toys. "We're really excited to be working with the all-star team of 343 Industries," Todd notes. "Microsoft has assembled an incredible group of developers to ensure Halo's continued place among the top entertainment franchises. 343 Industries is pushing the envelope with the visuals, storytelling and gameplay, and we can't wait until fans get their hands on Halo 4."

The Halo 4 figure series continues in the 6-inch size introduced with their Halo: Reach figures. They're also introducing a series of larger, boxed figures. These deluxe items are in scale with their 6-inch figures, but include larger accessories, such as Master Chief's Cryotube.

McFarlane Toys is part of a select group of licensees with Halo 4 products available at game launch. Halo 4 Series 1 kicks off this August with four carded figures and one boxed figure set, and expands to include even more figures later in the fall.

Todd promises, "343 still has some surprises to reveal, so we can't give you all the details just yet. But we've seen what they're working on, and Halo 4 will be worth the wait!"

August 2012

Carded Figures
• Master Chief
• Secret Figure 1
• Secret Figure 2
• Secret Figure 3

Boxed Figure
• Frozen Master Chief and Cryotube

November 2012

Carded Figures
• Cortana
• Secret Figure 4
• Secret Figure 5
• Secret Figure 6

Boxed Figure
• Secret Boxed Figure 1

Halo 4 Series 1 will be launched in August 2012, and will expand around the game launch in fall 2012, continuing into 2013. Available at Walmart, Target, Toys "R" Us, GameStop, local comic book stores, drug stores and other retailers. MSRP is $12 for standard carded figures and $25 for deluxe boxed figures.


HALO UNIVERSE

In addition to its all-new Halo 4 action figure line, McFarlane Toys is continuing its popular Halo: Anniversary series in fall 2012. Since the franchise's tenth anniversary has now passed, the line is being rebranded as "Halo Universe."

Halo Universe continues to bring fans the classic, fan-favorite characters from the earlier Halo games, and even includes "expanded universe" sources such as novels, comic books and the animated feature, Halo Legends. This series also continues the popular "build-a-figure" feature of our Halo: Anniversary lines, bringing collectors an extra bonus item such as the Difficulty Plaque or UNSC Logo.

Todd explains, "Halo 4 brings fans figures from the latest and greatest Halo video game. But Halo is a franchise with over a decade of incredible games, movies, books and comics. With our Halo Universe line, we can continue to offer long-time fans the classic characters they know and love."

Halo Universe Series 1 consists of five figures and one 6-inch-scale vehicle:

• Frederic-104 (Halo Legends)
• Romeo (Halo 3: ODST)
• Elite Commando (Halo 3)
• Brute Captain Major (Halo 3)
• Spartan (Multiplayer)
• ODST Drop Pod

Halo Universe Series 1 debuts in October 2012. Available at Walmart, Target, Toys "R" Us, GameStop, local comic book stores, drug stores, and other retailers. MSRP is $12 for figures and $39 for vehicles.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Halo Buelltin 1.18.12

The Halo Bulletin: 1.18.12

by bs angel 18. January 2012 23:28

Halo: Reach Screenshot

Ooh! Is it time for a blue light special?

343 Guilty Spark has been called everything from Tinker Bell to Light Bulb to That Little Ball Thingy, and in spite of, or perhaps because of, all his idiosyncrasies, he is easily one of the most unusual and entertaining characters in the Halo universe. Whether he’s playing the role of friend or foe, it’s practically a guarantee that he’s humming, reciting witty phrases, or giggling maniacally while he’s tagging along on your virtual adventures.

After being subjected to his erratic ramblings in numerous different games, we have grown accustomed to having his robotic-like voice come out of a floating, one-eyed orb. There is an actual person behind this character, though, bringing even more personality to an already eccentric role.

That person is Tim Dadabo.

Well known in the acting world, the Halo world, and the world of artificially created constructs, Tim provided the narration for the terminals in Halo: Anniversary and, more recently, in the audio edition of Halo: Primordium. Because of those things, and also because he’s pretty darn awesome, we sat him down and asked him a handful of questions. And by sat him down, we mean tied him to a chair, and by a handful of questions, we mean as many as he could tolerate. And then ten more.

So grab a beverage, a pair of reading glasses, and a book about protocol, because this week’s Halo Bulletin is an interview with the man behind the Monitor.


Greetings, Reclaimer: An Interview with Tim Dadabo

Greetings, Reclaimer: An Interview with Tim Dadabo

Halo: Primordium—the second novel in Greg Bear’s Forerunner Saga—came out earlier this month. I heard you played a part in the audio edition of that book. What was that role?

Narrator of the book.

So you basically read the entire book out loud? That sounds difficult. And time-consuming. What was the most challenging part of the experience?

Staying focused for so long (I'm kinda ADD). That, and that all the characters you meet along the way need a different voice, so you have to find one (I did approximately 20), then remember them when you encounter them later on!

I would say that sounds doable, but it totally doesn’t. Not for me, anyway! Tell us a little about a typical narrator recording session.

They’re usually long and very focused. Scripts are given far in advance because of how many pages there are. Clients are also listening to what might be made better or what you might have missed.

Reads are often flatter, more informal.

How do narrator recording sessions differ from video game voiceover recording sessions?

Voiceover recording sessions for games can also be longer, but more intense. Characters' emotions and motives need to be fleshed out. It's truly like acting for a role.

While I’m most familiar with your Halo work, I know you’ve done lots of other stuff as well. What are some other projects you’ve worked on?

Because I've had such great career, I'll name just a few. Dragon Age Series, Risk Factions, Leisure Suit Larry, Red Faction, Disney Guilty Party, Looney Toons. On commercials, Apple for Apple Jacks, The Leprechaun on Diet Dr. Pepper, Raid Bugs, Scrubbing Bubbles, and non-character roles. TV show narration, Promo....

{SPARK BEGINS RAMBLING... we cut him off.}

Halo 3 Screenshot

You had me at Halo! Wait, that part wasn’t about Halo, was it? My bad. Anyway, back to you-know-what. How were you introduced to our favorite Spartan super-soldier?

I knew Marty O'Donnell and Mike Salvatore long before they ever got involved with Bungie. Back then, Bungie was just a small startup in Chicago. When Bungie developed ONI, they brought me in for several roles. Then they auditioned me for an annoying, flying orb called 343 Guilty Spark in this little game they were developing called Halo.

"Greetings, Reclaimer!"

Clearly the audition went well! I’m sure other people tried out too, though. Why do you think you got the job?

Luck? Seriously though, I guess it's the way any actor gets any job. They were the right person at the right time, and they brought something unusual and captivating to the role.

What was your reaction when you learned your character was a giant floating eyeball named Guilty Spark?

Huh?! What the hell's a Guilty Spark, and what were you smokin' when you came up with that name?!

Two very valid questions! And here’s another one for you. What are your thoughts on how your character has changed over the last ten years?

For me, Guilty Spark has changed from this evil, conniving oracle to a bot on a mission; the mission he decided after many millennia was a necessary mission.

From an acting standpoint, his character became much more complex, much deeper.

Out of all the lines you’ve read over the years, which ones are your favorites?

"Calamity!" and "Save his head, dispose of the rest."

Halo: Reach Screenshot

I use that second line all the time in real life. Speaking of which, do you ever use the Guilty Spark voice in real life?

Kinda personal, isn't it? ;-)

I’m going to guess protocol dictated that response. Anyway, what is your favorite Halo game?

Wow. All of them, although I haven't played ODST yet. When I can find the time to play, I'm just getting into Reach. Gotta say, 2 was pretty awesome!

When you do have the time to play, what is your favorite game mode?

I play on Solo Campaign. I suck too bad to play the competitive modes! You guys would kick my ass!

While we’re on the subject of kicking ass, all of the Halo voice actors are amazing. Have you met any of them in person?

I'm friends with both Steve Downes (Master Chief) and Pete Stacker (Captain Keyes). I finally got to meet Jen Taylor (Cortana) at Halo Fest. Ahhh…. the two AIs together at last. They're all so awesome.

If you could meet any Halo character in real life, who would it be and why?

Hmmm…. ahh…. Guilty Spark, hello!? Why? I think he just needs a beer.

I probably should have seen that answer coming. Out of curiosity, do you have anything in common with your character?

I'm short, round and irritating. And when I'm on my mountain bike, I hum and think I can fly.

You are none of the first three things you listed, for the record! So I’ll ask you this instead: how are you different from your character?

I'm more lovable, and I'm a real boy.


I totally see what you did there. Before we wrap this up, tell me what excites you the most about the future of Halo.

The fact that its future is infinite. The storyline can go anywhere. Hopefully, someday, to the BIG SCREEN. Hello? Peter Jackson, Steve Spielberg.... you out there?

I don’t know if they’re out there, but your fans certainly are! Let’s end this with something for them. What advice can you give others hoping to make a career in voice acting?

Stay away. Stay far, FAR away. I mean, you do like gettin' a paycheck at the end of the week, doncha?!

While I said end this with something for the fans, I feel like you were talking to me. And I can totally take a hint. HMPH.

While he runs away as fast as he can, please enjoy a 25-minute preview from the audio edition of Halo: Primordium, narrated by the mastermind behind the Monitor, Tim Dadabo, and set to be released in the semi-near future.

Halo: Primordium Audio Book Preview

Until next week, Reclaimers….

<3,
bs angel

P.S. I was tempted to not include our customary Friday Caption Fun image this week because I didn’t have enough foresight to make it Monitor-themed, but your desktop could use some freshening up, so here it is anyway, embarrassingly devoid of any and all adorable talking orbs. Excuse my oversight, and instead submit your worthy captions to the latest round of festivities. Off you go!

Friday Caption Fun

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

NOPE!!!

Well, as I feared, today turned out to be yet another overly hyped day in the life of a Halo fan. So far (and as I'm sure it shall remain) all we have gotten from 343 is a couple of galleries, showing off our 117 love. Oh, well, maybe (HOPEFULLY) we can get something before the toy fair. Other wise, I will be disappointed in 343 and Microsoft for revealing their next big exclusive at a friggin toy fair... come on, guys, do a little better than that.

Monday, January 16, 2012

John-117 Day Tomorrow!

So, 343 has stated that they've been working on a ViDoc style BTS video since November, AND Halo 4 merchandise is being showed of at the London Toy Fair in about a week. SO a ViDoc or at least a trailer seems to be due, doesn't it? Let me know what you think in the comments below and I'll Post either a Halo 4 official something tomorrow or a post saying that it was all a sham. I guess we'll have to wait and see!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Halo 4 sneek peak

According to this post here on Team Xbox, The London Toy Fair will have, on display, a few figures from Re:creations line of licensed Halo 4 merchandise. I'm excited to see how this will play out with 343's timing on revealing things about the game!
Stay tuned! News is surely on the way!

The Halo Bulleitn: 1.12.12

The Halo Bulletin: 1.12.12

by bs angel 12. January 2012 18:00

Halo: Reach Screenshot

The Halo Bulletin: Now with 0% more Halo 4.

Over the holidays, the people that call 343 Industries home were told to take some time off, the specific length of which was up to each individual and their current workload. Some managed to sneak away a handful of days. Others were able to take a more substantial vacation. Now, though, as we find ourselves almost two weeks into the new year, the team in its entirety is back, well-rested and ready.

Ready for what, you ask? Ready to start a new milestone. Ready to complete another deliverable. And ready to tell the next chapter of the Master Chief’s tale.

I guess you could say Halo 4 is our fight to the finish. And we’re ready to do just that.

Since everybody’s return, I’ve noticed a few subtle changes around the studio. Meandering down one particularly softly lit aisle shows monitor after monitor of no-longer-just-concept art and animations. Walking by the audio booth broadcasts sounds that are unknown at first listen, yet at the same time eerily familiar. And in an area that was previously completely unadorned, there’s now a brand new “Campaign Wall” that features information about every level along with its current quality rating. The neat thing about the Campaign Wall is that as the levels improve, the sheets are updated, providing the entire studio with a real-time look at our progress toward the amazing-quality campaign we will ship with Halo 4.

I can’t share a picture of that wall just yet, because you would probably find the one pixel I forgot to blur, and it would undoubtedly reveal every single secret of the entire Reclaimer Trilogy. So I’m going to play it safe instead of sorry, and swap that picture with images taken at a recent event. Oh yes, it’s segue time. And abrupt and awkward segue time, at that.




Halo: Primordium

The Halo: Primordium Tour: Now with 100% more Bear.

While some of the studio was still on holiday, Halo: Primordium—the second novel in acclaimed science fiction author Greg Bear’s Forerunner Saga—was released. To celebrate the publication, Greg went on a book tour, talking about everything from the history of science fiction to his belief that if you write a popular novel, it must have a giant ape in it.

(I feel like now is a good time to make a joke about either Brutes or one particularly hairy coworker. While I ponder which one is less likely to get me fired, please continue reading.)

On a recent excursion to the University Bookstore in Seattle, I, along with a varied crowd of sci-fi and Halo fans alike, had the pleasure of hearing one of those talks. Wandering amongst the many leather-bound books were Frankie and Kevin, attempting to not get distracted by the smell of rich mahogany while closely patrolling the boundaries of the conversation. You see, not only is Greg Bear an award-winning author, but he is also contributing to Halo 4 in more ways than we can currently talk about.

As he relayed to his apt audience, Greg considers his Halo novels a trip back to classic science fiction. The process of writing these books is slightly different from his others, though, in the fact that the ideas are laid out for him, and then he runs—or, to put it more accurately, sprints—with them.

Halo: Primordium Halo: Primordium
Halo: Primordium Halo: Primordium
Halo: Primordium Halo: Primordium
Halo: Primordium Halo: Primordium
One particular thing he finds challenging about the Halo universe is the names. As he said, "These guys have a meeting about every single name and word in every single book and game!" That may have something to do with the special inscription Frankie got in his copy of the book. Just sayin’.

Anyway, during the question-and-answer segment, someone asked about the relationship between the books and the games, to which Frankie so eloquently responded, “I think when you're building games instead of just fiction, you don't have as much control over the end picture as you think you do because you may have to delete an entire level or technology may not be ready. So the game alters way more than any of Greg's fiction does in a natural, organic way. In fact, Greg has made a lot of our stuff more rigid than it ordinarily would be in the game. So funny enough, the reverse is true. Greg is creating things in the fiction we now have to stick to rather than the other way around."

While Greg’s book tour has officially concluded, many of the book stores he visited—University Bookstore included—made Greg sign Primordium books until his hand had a cramp, his pen ran out of ink, or he agreed to say Avatar was his most favorite movie ever. So, if you’re looking for a signed copy, start by calling the stores that hosted the tour. You can find a complete list here.



Squad DLC

Squad DLC Super Jackpot: Now with 100% more week.

We started this Bulletin with Halo 4, and then transitioned to Primordium. But before we go back to Halo 4, let’s touch on Reach, shall we?

The January Matchmaking playlist update went live in the wee hours of yesterday’s morning, and while it was a fairly smooth deployment, there was one minor hiccup: Double Team showed up as DLC required. That was fixed as of yesterday afternoon, so everybody who enjoys sharing their Halo experience with one other person, and one other person only, can now frequent that particular hopper, regardless of their DLC status.

We also decided to throw a Super Jackpot in there as well. It’s already live and will continue through the weekend. I’m not supposed to tell you the potential payout, so please ignore the following statement: you have a chance of randomly being awarded an extra 15,343 cR when playing the Squad DLC playlist. Now, go get yourself some already!



Halo: Primordium

Office of Halo Intelligence: Now with 100% more existence.

As we know many of you are anxiously awaiting any and all Halo 4-related pieces of information, we decided to start a new recurring feature called Office of Halo Intelligence, or OHI for short. It will be a semi-regular diary-type entry brought to you by various members of the Halo 4 development team, and it will provide insight into the making of our next title. Josh Holmes, Creative Director of Halo 4, kindly agreed to kick the festivities off.


Jessica has asked me to contribute to a Halo 4 developer diary as a recurring part of our weekly Bulletin. While we won’t be able to share secrets that would spoil any of the Carefully Planned Reveals™ that we have coming down the pipe, we will give you our impressions of some of the work that is going on behind the scenes here at 343. We’ll also provide our thoughts on anything that we do make public as part of the lead-up to the game’s launch. I realize that isn’t a lot at this stage, and trust me, this is hard for us, too. We are working on so many things that we can’t wait to share with you, but patience is in order. Good things come to those who wait. All will be revealed in due time. And assorted other clich├ęs.…

Right now the team across 343 is shaking off the last remnants of our turkey-induced stupor and whipping ourselves into fighting shape for the year ahead. It’s going to be a huge one. This will be the culmination of a multi-year journey that has already filled several cylindrical space-canisters with delicious blood, sweat and tears. Now we’re entering the crucial final stretch in which we will ready our baby for release into the wild. It’s an exciting time but stressful, too, as we place pressure on ourselves to live up to your expectations. The good news is that the game is already looking great and fun to play. So, as we ready ourselves to give you your first real look at Halo 4 in the months ahead, we can only hope that you, too, will like what you see.

/Josh

While our goal is to bring you as many of these OHI entries as we possibly can, it’s a given that some weeks will go by without one. So, please consider this an as-schedules-allow sort of a thing.

Speaking of as-schedules-allow sorts of things….



Halo: Reach Screenshot
Why hasn’t there been questionz for a long time!? –ProximateXbox

The above screenshot is untimely yet relevant. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions from there.



Halo: Reach Screenshot
I have noticed that the Custom Challenges have not been working properly for the last 48 hours or so, and that has affected my cR income drastically. Please fix this if possible. Thanks. – Phyv

The pipe got a little backed up toward the end of last week (I had a similar experience in real life, but we’ll save that story for another day). So the system spent yesterday getting caught up and doling out credits to everybody who completed Custom Challenges during that downtime. To make a short story even shorter, you should be all sorted now. Apologies for the negative impact on your cR income!



Halo: Reach Screenshot
So, have you, bs angel, been helping or testing in any way with Halo 4? –ButteryPie

As of right now, I’ve played Halo 4, provided feedback about those experiences, and attended numerous meetings regarding its general status. I’m looking forward to when we start releasing information, though, because then I will get to sit down with the people behind the scenes and get insight into the nitty-gritty details of the process. That was one of my favorite things about the months leading up to Anniversary—being able to go directly to the source, whether that was a map designer, an audio director, or the person who drove the creative vision behind the game. That’s an incredible thing, especially considering that I used to be on the fan side of the fence. And, while we’re on the subject, every time I see something new from Halo 4, I’m reminded of why I fell in love with this franchise in the first place….


Until next week.

<3,
bs angel

P.S. This week’s Friday Caption Fun wallpaper-type image is holiday-related, but don’t let that stop you from slapping it on your desktop. Embiggen, snag, and then hit the latest installment to show everybody just how witty you actually are. Off you go!

Friday Caption Fun

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Halo Bulletin 1.4.12

The Halo Bulletin: 1.4.12

by bs angel 4. January 2012 23:26

Halo: Reach Screenshot

In one year and out the other

Normally I wouldn’t be this bold, but the new year has me so confident that I guarantee at least one of the following things will happen in 2012: the world will come to an abrupt end, I will complete a multiplayer game without accidentally betraying all my teammates, or Halo 4 will be released, during, around, or semi-near the holidays. While one of those things will undoubtedly take place, I’m not going to tell you which one. I will give you a teeny tiny hint, however: it starts with Halo and ends with four.

While you ponder the various statistical probabilities of each previously mentioned possibility, I’m going to share some lighter reading in the form of Halo-themed New Year’s resolutions, written by the motivated amongst you. Good luck with attaining these goals, by the way. I have a feeling some of you are going to need it…. (I’m looking at you, Ethan Moon.)


Halo-themed New Year's Resolution
That’s totally not Halo-related. Well, if you aren’t Sergeant Johnson, anyway.


Halo-themed New Year's Resolution
I consulted my calculator, and it said “58008.” I’m pretty sure that’s relevant, one way or another.


Halo-themed New Year's Resolution
So, assuming I’m doing the math correctly, that’s one picture every two point…. wait, it’s a trap!



Halo-themed New Year's Resolution
You had me at skip the gym. And perhaps at insane body armor, too.


Halo-themed New Year's Resolution
Try writing the Bulletins. Those either make people cry or put them to sleep. And on a good day, both.


Halo-themed New Year's Resolution
Banned. (Just kidding.) (Not really.)


Halo-themed New Year's Resolution
That’ll be $20. And you’re welcome.


Halo-themed New Year's Resolution
Don’t make a girl a promise….



Halo: Primordium, available now

Speaking of promises, I told you a few weeks ago I’d work on getting the smallest of informational slivers to you in super-subtle ways. This week’s morsel comes from Frankie, as he explains how Primordium—the just-released second novel in Greg Bear’s Halo Forerunner Saga—fills in some of the gaps in the deeper Halo mystery.

Halo: Primordium


We’re super excited to launch any Halo novel, but when it’s from award winning sci-fi legend Greg Bear and when it not only deals in a direct fashion with events that will play out 100,000 years in the past, but also connects to what we call “contemporary” Halo events in 2552, then it takes on an even deeper significance.

Several years ago we made a decision to avoid the “bubble” Halo fiction – stuff like Halo Wars that deliberately avoids stepping on the feet of the game fiction and concentrate instead on answering reader questions and embroidering them properly into the main Halo tapestry. This is the second of Greg’s “Forerunner” trilogy of books and deals with characters and events first introduced in Cryptum, which we recommend as your first step into the Forerunner universe. A few mysteries are resolved in this book, but even more questions are asked. Lots of readers have already plowed through it and spoiler-laden discussions abound. There are BIG implications for the universe and some for Halo 4.

I’ve noted before—you don’t HAVE to read this stuff to appreciate the games, and vice versa. Both elements of fiction are and should be self-contained, but each will have a slightly different resonance for completists. And that warm, fuzzy, and occasionally startling sense of immersion is really what we want to get out of this journey. When a player or a reader recognizes something from the deeper fiction and makes his or her own connections, that’s a feeling that we enjoy and we want you to enjoy too. So congratulations to Greg, and Tor, our publishing partner on the launch of a major component of the Halo universe. We hope you enjoy it and we hope it gives you some big pieces of fat to chew on while waiting for Halo 4.



January Matchmaking Playlist Update

If it weren’t for one rather dedicated individual and his team of test-happy minions, Frankie’s beautiful words would be the end of this week’s Bulletin. But, because those people love you and want you to be happy (really, they do!), they managed to scrape together a pretty sizable update when there originally wasn’t one planned. Here are the details, should you want to prepare yourself for next Tuesday’s changes.

Halo: Reach Screenshot

• Living Dead updated.

Zombies need games to go along with their brains, which is why we updated this playlist to include the following new spooky map variants: Bedlam, Uncongealed, Pandemic, Count d’Houen, Deadwalk, Powerless, Spooky Base, and Parasitic. We also don’t want you to be “All Alone,” so we turned up the weighting on Condemned. Can we get a bleep-bloop?!


• Team Arena, Big Team Battle and Double Team updated to TU settings.

TU game types are our standard Reach Matchmaking settings with the Title Update changes. Those changes are: damage bleed enabled, modified reticle bloom, sword block removed, Armor Lock modified, and Active Camo modified.


• Squad DLC added. All DLC included/required.

Yes, we read our forums. No, we don’t always respond with words, because sometimes we respond with action instead. Like this time.

When Premium Battle was removed, threads about its disappearance slowly began cropping up. We adjusted the Matchmaking algorithm to match players who have DLC with other players who have DLC more often, but we noticed many players saying they still weren’t getting enough DLC to satisfy their map-related cravings. So we’re bringing a premium list back in the form of 6v6 DLC Slayer. This list is being introduced on a probationary status due to the low population previously experienced in Premium Battle. We will be keeping a very close eye on its numbers, so if you want it to stick around, you’d best play it. Consider this your first warning.

Also, I told you the Matchmaking team loves you! In fact, they wanted me to pass along some hugs. And kisses. And lots and lots of DLC maps!


• Abridged updated to latest version.

The creators, theforceswithin and schmittler 5000, made numerous changes to this map. Here are a few they deemed significant enough to mention:

1. Multi-flag has been improved. The flags now spawn in the front of the base a few feet from the GL (previous PL spawn).
2. A teleporter has been added inside the base that leads up to the two-story (Concussion) towers. This significantly improves movement.
3. The gravity lift to the Falcon has been moved into the base to stop vehicles from getting stuck in a permanent floating state.
4. Kill zones have been overhauled. It is now possible to fly underneath the bridge, and there are no HLG spots that we have found to be a problem.

They also removed the shotguns. It’s worth noting I consider that a bannable offense.


• 2v2 variants of Solitary and Battle Canyon added to Double Team.

We adjusted the Matchmaking algorithm to match players who…. never mind. Enjoy the varied terrain. :)


• Grifball early win behavior fixed.

Goosechecka requested that all games go to 343 rounds. We politely declined, and instead fixed the early win behavior on previously affected game types.


• Zealot, Countdown, and Penance added to Team Snipers.

The long barrel was in need of some attention, so we diversified the Team Snipers playlist with some smaller maps. We recommend forgoing the scope and going straight for the wild flailing. It’s a legitimate strategy. We promise.


And with that, this Bulletin is officially done. I know the wait for certain information seems torturously long, but as a certain wise woman said a few weeks ago, the date that we show what’s up our Halo 4 sleeve is barely visible on the distant horizon. Here’s to hoping the teeny tiny tidbits keep you satiated until then….

<3,
bs angel

P.S. Should you have a thing for lackadaisical Spartans, you'll enjoy this week's Friday Caption Fun wallpaper-esque image. Embiggen, snag, and then hit the latest article to contribute your hilarious quip. Off you go!

Friday Caption Fun

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Happy new year to one and all! I am excited to see what Halo news we get over the next few days, weeks, and months! from myself and Veliki Ubitsa, Have a wonderful 2012!!!
-MMC